Devotional Thoughts for Today
Acts 19:24-7 (ESV): “For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen.  These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, ‘Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth.  And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods.  And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.’  When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’”
When I was in college (before my Christian days), St. Patrick’s Day was a day when my friends and I would don something green, and then guzzle green beer at a party held in honor of a man whom I assumed was a wild party animal from antiquity. So, I was genuinely shocked when I found out, while studying church history at a seminary, that nothing could be further from the truth.
At age 16, Patrick, living in England, was captured by marauding pirates who took him to Ireland as a slave. During six long years of captivity, Patrick found God. Fortunately, he escaped and returned home where he eventually became a clergy of the Celtic Church (not Catholic). But one day, an Irish man appeared in Patrick’s dream, saying, “We beseech you to come and walk among us once more.” Despite whatever bitterness he might’ve had, Patrick returned in 432 and spent the next 30 years ministering among the Celtics. As a result, not only was Ireland won to Christ, Western Europe was evangelized by Celtic missionaries who came out of his ministry. Thus, I am still puzzled by how a day honoring a zealous missionary like Patrick has become a day of drunkenness and lewd behavior.
Valentine of the 3rd century, in whose honor Valentine’s Day is celebrated, was just as committed to God as Patrick. Because not much is known about him, several versions of his life exist but they all agree on one thing: Valentine was martyred for trying to convince people to believe in Christ and ultimately refusing to deny Christ. So, how did we end up with flowers, chocolates and cupids to celebrate a day named after a martyr for Jesus?
Businessmen, like Demetrius, have long figured out that the best way to reach into people’s pockets is to appeal to their devotion to God by associating it with slogans they promote (“Great is Artemis of the Ephesians”) to sell things they produce (religious figurines). Before long, people, having forgotten the true reason for celebration, just celebrate with such things as green beer, chocolates and flowers!
Spoiling your Valentine’s Day celebration isn’t the purpose of this blog, but a reminder: “Don’t conform any longer to the pattern of this world” (Rom. 12:1) that shifts with time and always empties your pocket. Instead, hold onto what men like Patrick and Valentine truly stood for: their love for Jesus and their desire to serve Him. So, if you have a hot date tonight, give your waitress an evangelistic tract with a good tip!
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 50-51